On the heels of my fish cake post, I’m ever so pleased to welcome a guest blogger to Sistabuttafly in the kitchen…a guest who brings a delectable crab cake recipe.
When I think of Laura Mazerolle, I think of Duran Duran and Cyndi Lauper. We met in junior high, and I was always amazed by her courage and creativity with fashion. We all knew she’d find her place in the fashion world someday, and indeed, she has as on the other side of the country as Owner/Creative Director at Mazizmuse Design Co. in Vancouver.
Laura’s creativity does not stop with the gorgeous throw pillows and other works of textile art that she fashions. She’s always posting mouth-watering photos of dishes she’s prepared on Facebook, and almost always with a beverage pairing. And she knows her stuff as she’s well on her way to earning the world-renowned Wine and Spirits Education Trust certification. She says she keeps track of wines by creating a story to go with them, and we’re all so fortunate to have those stories told to us in such a delightful manner and with photos that put mine to shame.
And so, I give you crab cakes by Laura Mazerolle.
I found this recipe for crab cakes online but altered it to appeal to my girlfriends who were planning a wedding shower for a mutual friend. I wanted a light, pretty, elegant appetizer for a group of ladies who appreciated such things. (…but don’t be fooled – the flavours will make a child beg for more!) It is teamed up with a bell pepper aioli that is as delicate as the crab itself but wonderfully rich and creamy.
The recipe called for fine bread crumbs. This was my first modification. Ever since I was introduced to Panko crumbs 10 years ago, I have never used average breadcrumbs. I don’t know how they do it but the Japanese have even managed to make even the humble bread crumb an art form. Light, never heavy or soggy and full of perfect crunch.
Next was the call for a fairly average, if boring mayonnaise dressing for the crab cake topping… I would instead make a homemade aioli.
Then the kicker…at the last minute, I was forced to make a substitution I would rather not make – my local market did not have any fresh (real) crabmeat…what a bummer! I have used a good quality canned crabmeat before (try to find one with as much leg meat as possible for added texture) but make no mistake, fresh is always better. If you can find it, use it.
So let’s begin!
To start, I pre-heated the oven to 475 and drained my three cans of crab meat through a fine sieve that was placed over a bowl. While I waited, I quartered an orange bell pepper and removed the seeds and white fleshy bits inside. I transferred them, skin side up, on an un-oiled baking sheet, into the pre heated oven to roast for 15-20 minutes. They should be soft and the skins blackened…but keep an eye on them, they are very easy to overcook or burn. Once done, remove, cool and chop. Set aside.
While I waited, I minced 1/4 cup of celery (I like to use the tender centres), 1/4 cup of minced chives from the garden, 1/4 cup regular mayo (Miracle whip is not really mayo – try Hellman’s or make your own!), 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1 egg, 1/4 cup of Panko crumbs and 1 tablespoon minced banana pepper. The recipe called for 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (not peppers) but I thought the added colour and zip – without the heat – would be a bit more refined.
I added the drained crab and folded it into the wet mixture. Using a tablespoon, I scooped up the mixture and formed balls, pressing them gently in the centre to form a cake shape and liberally sprinkled all sides with Panko crumbs forming as I went. I placed the cakes on a plate to set.
Once I had all the cakes formed, I quickly placed them on an oiled baking sheet. It’s best not to let the cakes sit in the oil for any length of time prior to inserting into the oven – the key here is light and fluffy. In the time I was taking to photograph the uncooked cakes on the baking sheet, you can see the bottom of the cakes beginning to absorb the oil. This won’t result in failure by any stretch (it’s the wonder of Panko) but the quicker onto the sheet and into the hot oven, the better.
That left me with only 15-18 minutes baking time to whip up my homemade bell pepper aioli. Into a blender (or small food processor), I added two egg yolks, 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (again, nothing compares to fresh!), 1 clove minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard and the chopped roasted bell pepper. I measured out 1/2 to 3/4 cup half olive oil and half canola into a measuring cup and set the blender to low. I drizzled the oil very slowly to start, incorporated, then drizzled slowly again, incorporated and continued until the texture was the consistency of a loose mayonnaise. You can add salt and pepper to taste if you wish though I didn’t feel any seasoning were needed.
Spooned into a small bowl and garnished with a few chive and minced roasted pepper pieces…so pretty!
I finished just in time for the timer to go off on the cakes. I pulled them out and they looked deliciously crunchy and golden brown on the bottom but toasted on the top. Perfect!
I arranged them on my favorite serving platter with the bowl of the pepper aioli and served with a chilled “New Harbor” Sauvingnon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand to cut the rich aioli and compliment the delicate but sweet crab meat. A cucumber, sour cream and dill salad on the side would make a lovely, fresh (and girly) accompaniment.